The new owners of national airport operator ANA, the French group Vinci, have denied that negotiations are underway with the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair to establish a new base in Lisbon Airport, with the plan to start operating in the winter of 2014 with eight planes and 14 new routes.
The denial, reported by the national news agency Lusa, comes in the face of a statement by Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary at a press conference in Lisbon on Tuesday, at which he said he has been interested in having a Lisbon Airport base since 2010.
He said his ambition is to base eight planes in Lisbon, to create 40 new routes and move around four million passengers a year from the capital city’s airport.
And he claimed: “We are talking to Vinci regarding our proposal for Lisbon, an airport which still has really expensive fees for airline companies.”
He said he wants to inaugurate the base next winter, so the deal has to be closed between April and May.
O’Leary believes that to make things work an expansion of the airport’s terminal 2 would be essential, given the scope of Ryanair’s proposal.
He claimed that Lisbon Airport has the “ worst ratio of passengers to population of all European capitals, and the Ryanair proposal would allow increasing traffic and close the gap between Lisbon and other European capitals”.
Commenting on the recent controversial TAP privatisation process that never took off (see Algarve Resident edition of January 4), O’Leary considered that the Portuguese airline still has high fees which generally are over 300% of the average Ryanair fee, which is about €53.
He maintained that Ryanair coming to Lisbon could mean “healthy competition for TAP”.
The Algarve Resident covered the story of the public proposal from Ryanair to set a base in Lisbon (see Algarve Resident’s edition from January 26 2012) last year, and in March, the plans for the said base were made available to the press in Lisbon, by Ryanair Deputy Chief Executive Michael Cawley.
The plan originally included 40 new routes, with flights to Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, London and Bristol, as well as creating around 4,000 direct jobs and another 12,000 indirect jobs, generating €540 million in tourist revenue.
The Algarve is also on the mind of Michael O’Leary, who mentioned during the same press-conference that he was “negotiating with the Algarve’s tourism entities to establish new winter routes in Faro for the tourist segments interested in golfing holidays” (see story on page 11).
One of the two Ryanair bases in Portugal is in Faro (the other one in Porto), and Ryanair operates around 1,500 daily flights, from over 55 bases in 28 countries, with an estimated traffic of 79 million passenger at the end of the fiscal year ending in March 2013.